Gap is back — and in a really big way. The iconic '90s outfitter is joining the rest of today's throwback brands who are wrangling the attention of Generation Z. But for Gap, the comeback approach is simple: Why not recreate the spot that put them on the map in the first place?
A new ad, aptly dubbed 'Generation Gap', features a talented band of celebrity offspring whose parents modelled in Gap ads themselves. Refinery29 spoke with model-musician Chelsea Tyler, daughter of Steven Tyler, about what it was like to follow in her father's footsteps, and what Gap's latest move is all about. (The Aerosmith frontman's own Gap commercial featured him rocking out barefoot, back in 1997.)
"It was such an awesome, raw depiction of him and Joe Perry, just being so ridiculous; I watched it again recently and died laughing," Chelsea Tyler told us. "He didn't do a lot of things like that back then. I don't think those two worlds — fashion and rock and roll — were mixing as commonly back then as they are now. Those Gap ads in the '90s were so important for my upbringing, my fashion sense, and my cultural awareness. The Mellow Yellow ad, for example, was so influential for me. It's the T-shirt and jeans revolution."
The ad Tyler references was the inspiration behind the creative direction for this project. The '90s spot featured Rashida Jones, Alex Greenwald of Phantom Planet, and Monet Mazur. But the names behind this decade's reboot are just as cool, and perhaps more relevant to today's Generation Z boom, than any of the retailer's previous campaigns: Lizzy Jagger, TJ Mizell, Evan Ross, Rumer Willis and Coco Gordon, led by the legendary Naomi Campbell. It's a redux of sorts for the supermodel, who starred in her own Steven Meisel-lensed Gap ad in 1992.
It's the T-shirt and jeans revolution.
In the new spot, the ensemble cast sings their own rendition of Colour Me Badd's hit 'All 4 Love '. The song feels especially poignant now, given the current political climate ( er, meltdown). Tyler tells us that she felt fortunate to add her voice to the song's uplifting qualities: "There was a lot of time in between shooting, and we were all on the big, white soundstage, and we were all just sitting and standing in this cluster. We were singing the song a cappella over and over again; they'd come in and randomly shoot, but we just kept singing that one hook for about 45 minutes."
Rehearsing the song take after take made the lyrics feel more like a generational mission statement than an edgy follow-up to the '90s tune, Tyler explained: "In that process, you almost forget what you're saying. You're not thinking about it as words; it almost becomes this mantra, this meditative kind of thing, and to be singing a song like that with such a loving group, was just so special. In that moment, I was really happy Gap chose to bring this back."
The brand is bringing back an assortment of iconic Gap staples, too. The lineup includes everything you'd expect, including all of our throwback favourites: the 10-button tee, the mock tee, that oversized sweatshirt, carrot denim, khakis, and more. The offering will be available in select stores and online from 7th February.
“The ‘90s is having a sartorial moment and we have an archive of pieces that set the tone for that decade commercially and culturally, so it seemed right to re-issue some of those pieces and the stories that come with them,” Craig Brommers, Gap's CEO, said in a release. “‘Generation Gap’ came together in a celebration of who was with us then and who we are with now – it has, at its heart, that simple truth that we can take from the past but also celebrate our future.”
Whether or not this will be what Gap needs to crack the code to get into the minds (and wallets) of the logo-obsessed, normcore-loving teens who are beyond shopping centres remains to be seen. But for those of us who are just a teensy bit older, Gap's comeback couldn't have arrived at a better time. Because nothing — not even the latest Instagram fad — says cool like the ease of a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Don't believe us? Watch the video for yourself, below.
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